The Next Project

Onward from villanelles!

Amy Jasek
3 min readJan 21, 2023


iPhone photo by author

Maybe I’ve said it before; I’ll say it again: we are a family of rabbit hole divers. We don’t do things by halves. So when my daughter, in 2020, got into Romanticism, she didn’t just kinda read a little bit about it, she dove all the way in, including digging deep into the social and political contexts that drove the movement. She looked at the Enlightenment and ended up neck-deep in the French Revolution. If you ask her, she will blame Samuel Taylor Coleridge. (Hopefully some of you get this!)

From the French, it was a small skip up over the water to Ireland, and the Rebellion of 1798. Honestly, I think she could teach a class in the subject even now at the tender age of 15, she has researched it so much. She’s reading a biography of Wolfe Tone at the moment, having recently read Thomas Russell’s journals and a whole stack of other things. Fortunately for me, she gives me a play-by-play of everything her eyes light upon, so I may not have it all in my brain the way she does, but I’m standing there with her as much as my attention span allows.

Our Irish ancestors would probably be pleased as punch with all this. I never really considered the heritage much even though my Grandmother’s siblings were Irish American 100. My teen’s father is Scottish, by the way (as in born there and all but a couple of members of the family still live there), so you can guess where she’s going next. She’s veering that way a little bit already. (And here it is nearly Burns Night!)

But I digress. In the thick of this intellectual stew, I found a lovely copy of Joyce’s Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, something I had wanted to read for a long time. Imagine my delight when I understood pretty much all of it thanks to my Catholic upbringing and my daughter’s historical lectures. I only had to look up one person (Parnell, he’s a bit later than her period of expertise). Also, I adored that book.

Fast forward a short time to Christmas Day, when my kiddo gave me two books by Seamus Heaney, whose poetry I have never read and with whom I am now completely enamored. It’s wonderful, evocative, steeped in so many layers of everything that I love about poetry. I am especially taken with his sequence poems; they are fascinating, and…